Julie James MS, Minister for Housing and Local Government
In December last year, I wrote to Members of the Senedd to share details of the Child Poverty – Income Maximisation Action Plan communications strategy. This strategy set out our plans to ensure people are aware of the opportunities available to them to help maximise their household income.
On 1 March 2021, as part of that communication strategy we launched the first National integrated benefit take up communication campaign (#hawliadyarian / #claimwhatsyours) to encourage people to check and claim the benefits they are entitled to. The campaign is targeting low-income families across Wales as well as a wider audience of people who may now need support due to the financial impacts of the pandemic.
The campaign will run from the 1 March through to the 25 March using creative messaging delivered through online digital communications, newspaper advertisements and leaflet drops in targeted postcode areas. Key channels include social media advertising on Facebook and Instagram, YouTube and an audio advert on Spotify. We will also use Google search and display advertising to target those seeking financial help in Wales when the carry out searches for specific benefits, jobs or even payday loans.
The campaign call to action will direct audiences to a new campaign webpage on the Welsh Government website (https://gov.wales/claim-whats-yours).
Raising a person’s awareness is only part of their journey to actually having extra money in their pockets. Therefore, a strong message in the campaign is for people to contact Advicelink Cymru’s helpline for direct support on 0808 250 5700. There they will receive quality assured and confidential advice on their benefit entitlements and access to the full range of other advice and support that is available through the Welsh Government’s Single Advice Fund services.
We have also developed a toolkit for our stakeholders. The link to this is attached for your information National Benefit Campaign toolkit.
I would encourage all Members across the Chamber to support the campaign by circulating the campaign information within your constituencies and communities.
In addition to the first national welfare benefit take up campaign, we are delivering a number of initiatives to further support families in Wales to claim all the financial support they are entitled to. This includes:
Developing and delivering information packs and training for frontline workers
An awareness-raising programme accessible to front-line workers to increase their understanding of the welfare benefit/wider-financial support systems and their ability to support people to claim all the income they are entitled to is underway.
150 online awareness sessions will be delivered throughout the length of the contract.
The sessions commenced in January and I am pleased to report they are proving popular and extremely successful, so much so we are increasing the number of the sessions being delivered to meet the demand shown across Wales.
Delivering increased advice and support on welfare benefits through existing family support models, to help maximise income
A small cohort of local authority support workers are undergoing more intensive benefits training to enable them to provide increased advice and support to the families they work with, up to the generalist benefits adviser level.
This work seeks to maximise the opportunities provided by the trusted relationships developed between these workers and the people they help.
The pilot will include monitoring and informal evaluation to assess the use of this increased knowledge/ skills by participants and where possible the subsequent impact on individuals/families and will inform the need for national roll-out.
Delivering a system of ‘passporting’ between local authority benefits making it easier and quicker to apply for support in Wales.
Together with Local authorities and other relevant stakeholders we are actively looking at simplifying and streamlining application processes for devolved welfare benefits.
We are collating the learning from this piece of work to produce a Best Practice Toolkit for Local Authorities. This will include showcasing examples of the practices that different Local Authorities have introduced to help streamlined the application process and increase the take up of benefits.
We know the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities, and those who are most vulnerable have been hardest hit.
This Welsh Government committed to mitigating the impact of the crisis for families living in poverty and we are taking a series of actions to ensure that families in Wales are aware of and are able to access all the financial support they are entitled to – these are practical actions which will help maximise income, reduce essential living costs and provide support to families to build financial resilience.